What to do?(92 Posts)
I have been home edding my 12 year old DS for two years. It is a constant battle to get him to do anything. He will not do anything himself and thinks everything I arrange is crap or a waste of his time. All he wants to do is play World of Warcraft.
I am fearful that he is ill prepared for a life of doing anything but playing Wow.
I was told that give him enough time and he would become interested in stuff but that's just not happened.
I think he was in school too long and anything that smells like learning is seen by him as a punishment.
Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks
Is he interested in any bands?
DS read George Orwell's '1984' after being inspired by the band 'Muse'.
Prog rock, disco, punk; all come with a social/historical context.
I don't know the world of warcraft, but could he learn about historical armies/militia in the context of great civilisations and/or wars eg WW2. Perhaps he'd be interested in the philosophies behind the perpetrators eg facism, communism etc. That would link with biology, psychology, economics, geography etc.
Might he be interested in the technology/science behind modern warfare?
how long has he been out of school?
many home edders recommend 1 mth for every year of school, i would say give it a year.
OP has already said for two years. Is there a reason for not trying secondary school?
He didn't go to secondary school as the same problems that he experienced at junior school would follow him there.
He seems to have no motivation for anything but computer games.
I am terrified that come working age he is going to be totally unprepared but don't want to be putting pressure on him.
Is there a reason for not putting pressure on him?
I would only let him play the game if he had done a set amount of work. If he didn't do anything else then it would be just tough he didn't get to play.
Or I would simply tell him that the computer was going off for a week and let him get thoroughly bored so that he had to do something. If he moans that he has nothing to do you could suggest potatoes to peel etc.
Is there more to it? A reason why you can't upset him?
is he able to begin thinking about life after school age? Would he enjoy/manage something like a uni degree in a related field, eg games design orcomputer studies?
Obviously he needs A levels for those.....
(Apologies if you have posted about him before.)
I have told my HE 15 year old, who sounds similar to your son in being very put off by the idea of any conventional learning.
I have told him he must do something for his mind, something for his body and something for his spirit. He works hard on his music, is learning German, goes to the gym and does yoga, and I am trying to get him to use his music as a volunteer (not much has happened with this yet).
I think a combination of a bit of strong-arming from you, and using WoW as an inspiration for some other activities (as suggested above) might work. Sometimes, I think you do have to nag and put pressure on kids, maybe because they have been corrupted by the world of school, maybe because our society is messed up, maybe because no one is perfect. Who knows?
Would you want to talk about what happened to put him off school?
I think that we would have to know more about what had happened at school to give proper advice.
Without any further information I would say that we were having a technology free household for October and include everyone in it. Everyone would get one hour a day on the computer and one hour a day TV - ( an hour of their choice) and be strict about it- even to yourself.
The rest of the time they have to decide what to do. If he tantrums let him.if he moans tell him that it is not your problem- you will give suggestions or you will support if he wants to do something but other than that it is his problem.
I think that's a great idea. Screens are addictive. (I should know!)
He is a 12 year old child and he has an addiction so I think you need to treat it as such. Perhaps get professional advice. Unless it is tackled I can't see him changing next year or the year after, he is likely to get worse.
Do you do simple things like eat together and talk?
Are you part of the home educating community locally?
You may well find there are others of a similar age who play the computer almost as much.
My lad, used to play lots...and lots, but would come out with us whenever interesting alternatives were offered.
Home Ed camps through the summer for example, or HE workshops and meetings where activities suited him.
We used to discuss the effects of over use of screen time, on a developing brain, and encouraged him to come out and about with us.
We asked for his input on what other things he enjoyed-and he was interested in playing Warhammer, Magic the Gathering and Fantasy role play games-all encouraged through his teen HE friends.
Our lad, like all of the others in our experience, put aside all computer games etc, when he chose to put his head down at college and then university to get the top grades he had set his mind on.
I know lots of autonomously HE lads who could have been described like your lad, at a similar age. One of whom now is acing his way through a Russell Group University doing a degree in an unrelated academic subject!
The subject actually came up at HesFes when young autonomously HE people did a question and answer session. Two of the lads identified themselves as potentially label computer addicts, but laughed and explained that it was an excellent way of socialising online, and they chose to go out when other stuff when it interested them. The key I think was finding lots to interest them. Both those lads did join in with other HE kids at camps like HesFes a lot.
One of them is now an outdoor pursuits instructor and the other took himself off to college when the time was right (as so very many of them do) and is now doing medicine at uni.
Others have of course, used all of this online experience to develop a career in gaming/computer programming -in fact I know quite a number who have become successful at that!
How about coming over to the Mumsnet HE Facebook page, and talk this through with people who are actually home educators-or better still come to the UK Unschooling Network FB page where more people hang out that home educate their children by following their interests and understand that learning can be obtained through living life-including when playing on computer games for very long stretches.
On applying to join either please send a message to the admin, to confirm you are a home educator.
Listen to Julie
she really knows what she is talking about!
I think that childhood is too precious to allow a child to become addicted to computer games. You are the adult. Switch it off! Boredom is good for children, it stimulates the imagination, something that can't happen if you rely totally on the computer.
Even if he doesn't want to do educational work yet he should be doing his share of the household chores and that would keep him busy if he had to cook some meals, mow the lawn etc
It can happen that a teenager can do nothing and then, once they set their mind, go to a RG university and get a good degree; but we only hear the success stories and many would not be capable.
I wouldn't risk it.
If you have a good home educating network, as described by julienoshoes, you have more chance of success; but many areas are not so lucky.
I may be wrong,but I don't think that OP would be so worried if he was socialising and part of a home educating community where she could also look for support. I feel, from her posts, that they are both isolated.
As I said originally we need more information. Any advice could be quite dangerous if we don't know the circumstances, he could have special needs, we don't know.
'It is a constant battle to get him to do anything'.
What if you stopped battling and focused on finding out what interests and inspires him instead? Could you play WoW with him? What does he like about it so much? What really inspires him and engages him? How could you nurture and develop that interest? What if you focused on your connection and relationship with him instead of what you think he should be doing and isn't?
That would be my starting point, not starting another set of battles by imposing limits and technology bans. If you have been battling with him for two years then it is not surprising that he does not want to do any of your suggestions.
I also agree with Julie - come over to facebook. Even if he doesn't want to connect with other home edders, you can and he might want to find other home educated young people to play WoW or other games with. The groups there are closed so you can discuss home ed issues with other home edders alone.
"we only hear the success stories"
As opposed to children in school, where they are forced to work etc, and we know from regular reports that children fail to achieve the Governments own target of 5 GCSE...I think the latest report is 42% failure rate...
and the way I read the OP that a school type route has already failed miserably.
Horses for courses, the OP will make up her own mind, knowing her son.
Success for me is for the young person to finish their compulsory education age, as a happy, self confident, gainfully employed, individual.
But the reason you don't hear of failures from me, is because amongst the hundreds now, of autonomously HE young people I know in real life, hand on heart I don't know any.
OP do come to FB if you can.
Not everyone there will agree with me, but you will actually be amongst people with experience of HE
Unfortunately I know quite a few failures in HE.
I would imagine it is the same proportions as those in schools- the whole range.
I think that the problem is that you can say how wonderful HE has been for your children and all they associate with, and I can say how wonderful school has been for my children and all they associate with- but unfortunately it isn't the same for all. There is always the entire range.
What OP needs is the practical advice like joining the FB group- most useful if she hasn't got a good HE community- and many areas don't have a good one.
It's so hard, isn't it! I too initially had such a strong aversion to the use of any sort of console or screen. Over the years, I have lost this fear and this, in large part, because I have seen way too many young people who I would have described as being addicted, maturing so wonderfully and simply thriving. ALL who have reached that age are either employed, or in uni and are loving life and giving back to it with joy.
I do think our fear of these media is analogous to the book burning episodes of yore. Any new means of passing on information is regarded with huge suspicion by those who are not familiar with dealing with the consequences. We worry about what will happen to the minds of those who are immersed in it. We naturally fear the consequences, and only hear about the possible terrible implications...as in the stories in the media which connect acts of violence to video games etc.
However, this last concern, I am fairly certain, is an error born of the availability heuristic. It is of course possible that I simply have the opposite availability heuristic, but I suspect mine is one that is born, not of recalling very rare, isolated, events, but one that actually more accurately represents reality. Instead of the incredibly rare occurrences, I have seen a pretty common-place group of mostly boys, though some girls who use these media extremely heavily, who have grown up to be wonderful, sociable, gentle, peace-loving, witty, sassy, worldly, competent problem-solvers who embrace stress when they need to and can multitask in a way that I envy profoundly!!
These kids have been HEd. They've played WOW, Runescape, Call of Duty, Doom, Rayman, Guitar Hero. They have laughed, written and talked about these games with friends and the wider world through online forums who have given huge dollops of critical feedback and who help to learn to think and write!
If a child is very absorbed in a game, you can be more or less certain that he IS learning something. It may not be a traditional form of education, but the degree of absorption is most likely giving him huge transferable skills.
My own son has huge skills in huge numbers of departments (having gamed heavily throughout his childhood). He has had virtually no formal lessons in anything other than music (which he chose to pursue). He is fit, takes his own fitness seriously. He is a gifted musician. Has just gone to college and is achieving top grades in all his subjects. He is kind and funny, (though his sister may disagree here...)
Other friends of his who did nothing other than play Doom until they went to college at 16 have gone on to win prizes at top unis, by which I mean to say that you won't be cutting off possibilities for your son by allowing him to pursue things that fascinate him, whatever they may be!
Ok, so it is very important you don't neglect him. You are meant to advise him as best you think you can!! Explain about the importance of exercise and offer him other alternative forms of entertainment. Most likely, perhaps with your help, he will see that sitting down beyond a certain length of time is painful and that he games more efficiently if he is fit and talks to others about it, gets their feedback, grows through learning to take criticism etc.
Books that discuss the future of education often talk about problems with the standard school model (shortfall of teachers, irrelevance of many subjects that rapidly become outdated, even within the space of a year!) These books are often explicit in their call to make education more like gaming.
I think the depth of attention that kids pay to these games, the complexity of the information they take on board, the speed with which they do it, the readiness with which they address complex problems...these are transferable skills and we can relax, if ever such a little, once we appreciate this.
Games give many transferable skills and I think that anyone can relax if their child enjoys them, my son has made a career from it so it has done him no harm at all, BUT this is a 12 year old child who appears to have no other interests. He ought to be out with friends, riding a bike, going swimming etc and finding interests in the real world.
My son spent a lot of time playing computer games, he still does as an adult but I would have been very worried had I not been able to interest him in anything else at 12 years. They can make online friends with these games, but they are not real friends.
I think it irresponsible to tell OP that her son, who is not even a teenager yet, can spend his life gaming and then, when he sets his mind to it, can snap out of it and have a glittering academic/artistic/musical career when he wants to. I have no doubt that some do, but they don't all.
As an adult I would limit the use of any type of screen and going back to claraschu say that he had to split the time and find something physical, something for the mind and something for the spirit in addition to gaming.
Maybe he needs to think of the future and if he wants a career in computer gaming it is a highly competitive field. Maybe finding out what is required would help- there are websites that tell you all the different jobs available and the skills needed. If he wants the technical side then Maths will be important, if he wants the artistic side life drawing will be very important.
I will be much more effective if you use the positive by going with the gaming rather than use the negatives and just switching them off.
'It will be more effective', the t got missed off. Carrot rather than stick is the best way;but not just washing your hands of it and trusting to other people's success stories. People are always keen to tell success stories'but they keep failures to themselves.
Am totally with Satin! He's only 12 and needs at least a steer from an adult to ensure he covers the basics. Can't learn by osmosis. There's loads online- bbc bitesize etc
I'm torn on this as a non-HE (but really curious) ex-WoW player. I played for 4 years and stopped for several reasons.
-He'll be learning maths. WoW is very maths heavy:
a)Learning about spell priority (What hits hardest and why, what spell refreshes quickest, what spells are affected by global cooldowns, what spells are 'procced' by other spells and at what rate) for an efficient DPS (damage per second)
b) Learning about the Auction House - what sells well, what doesn't. What is worth spending time farming (ie. herbs, ore, fish, meat) because it is profitable and what is better to simply vendor because it takes up bag space.
c) Learning about his character, about the gems he needs, about the gear and weapons which give the best DPS.
-He'll be learning about team work. If he's in a guild he'll be communicating on guild chat with people from many walks of life and many different countries. When I played I knew people from Sweden, Qatar, Lebanon, Slovenia, South Africa, Denmark, Ireland, Kuwait, etc. We'd talk about the cost of living between countries, weather, etc.
If he does raids, he'll have to take directions from a Raid Leader about where to stand, what to do at certain points in the raid, where NOT to stand, etc.
-He'll be learning patience and tenacity - WoW is not an easy game to master and to get good at it you have to be prepared to die, die and die again.
-He'll be having fun. Lots of fun.
-It is truly, highly, addictive. There's no getting away from it. The number of people who start playing and then stop are far fewer than the number who start playing and continue. Its nickname is 'World of Warcrack' for a reason.
The game mechanics are very clever. You just get to a point where you are at the 'top of your game' and a new patch is released, making subtle but significant changes and you are suddenly thrown in to disarray, respecing your gear, changing gems, reforging, etc., etc.
The leveling is also very subtle. You get a level up very very quickly at first, then gradually it gets harder to get a level up...you want it badly.
-See above. You are exposed to people from all over the world with no barriers. The language can be very adult even with mature filter switched on and there are some awful people on there.
-It's basic premise is violence and more violence. Your task for over 75% of the game is to find and kill so many of a certain type of NPC.
In my honest opinion, it's really not suitable for a 12 year old.
You can do certain things to make it better:
-Turn on mature filter
-Use the parental controls within the game to limit the time he can use it.
-You could expect him to earn his game time - it's only £8 per month so he could easily do chores to earn for it.
I think that earning game time is probably the way to try.
He appears to have been addicted to games from the age of 10 yrs, if not before. Not a lot is known about it, I have looked on the internet and this report for Panorama seems very fair.
Having read through quite a few reports the same advice appears to be given to parents:
Video games are becoming increasingly complex, detailed, and compelling to a growing international audience of players. With better graphics, more realistic characters, and greater strategic challenges, it’s not surprising that some teens would rather play the latest video game than hang out with friends, play sports, or even watch television.
Of course, all gamers are not addicts – many teens can play video games a few hours a week, successfully balancing school activities, grades, friends, and family obligations. But for some, gaming has become an uncontrollable compulsion. Studies estimate that 10 percent to 15 percent of gamers exhibit signs that meet the World Health Organization’s criteria for addiction. Just like gambling and other compulsive behaviours, teens can become so enthralled in the fantasy world of gaming that they neglect their family, friends, work, and school.
Most 12 year olds have to be out of their home for at least 6 hours a day and so it will never be quite as much of a problem as those who have unlimited access.
I think it is far too blasé just to say that a young person can spend hours at a time gaming, to the exclusion of other activities and interests, and it really doesn't matter because in their late teens they will suddenly wish to educate themselves and at that point will have a glittering future.
He is only 12 years old, I would find ways to cut down on the gaming and widen his other interests, rather than leave it to chance and hope that he will emulate other people's success stories. He might not and then it is much more difficult to deal with than a 12 year old.
Thank you all so much for your advice. I really appreciate it.
I am sure that getting in with an HE group is the best one, the FB ones if you haven't local ones.
Satin do you home educate and have you ever heard of autonomous education or unschooling? You are caricaturing the suggestions made here as leaving him to get on with it and hoping for the best but there is much more to unschooling and other options beyond control and limits. It really doesn't seem helpful to repeatedly talk about addiction here when all this will do is make the OP fearful and less able to make a considered response to the situation.
OP is already fearful, and rightly so. That is why she posted. I can't think that anyone wants a 12 yr old who is addicted to computer games. Even julienoshoes has said that her son would go out if there were interesting alternatives, but OP appears to be isolated and hasn't come up with alternatives that he wants to do.
As the adult, who knows better and pays the bills, you can simply limit and say 'tough, find something else to do.'
On a mundane level, in two years has she had no contact with the education authority? I realise that you can refuse to allow a visit,but you are supposed to give a report on on the education he is receiving. He is not getting a balanced education.
Belonging to a group would give her support, if nothing else. She appears to need it.
He has an addiction to computer games and I can't see that denying it is helpful.
I am sorry OP, my intention is not to alarm you, just to say that you can't just let it drift in vague hopes, you do need to have some strategies. Joining a group is the first step and get support for you, and hopefully for him.
as an aside:
"but you are supposed to give a report on on the education he is receiving."
Where does it say that in law?
Schools are allowed to get away with a broad and balanced education....because they can't possibly offer a personalised education suitable for each child.
home educators are not charged with providing a balanced education.
A suitable and efficient one yes.
but it doesn't have to be balanced
and it is perfectly possible that this child is still deschooling-as he was so badly damaged by the system.
I wouldn't be forcing him to do anything. I'd be sitting with him finding out what it is that interests him, what he is getting out of the game...and maybe joining in playing along side him.
It is astonishing the education to be gained if one looks closely at these games.
it may be he feels safe socialising online rather than in person, perhaps because of past experiences. Maybe his needs are met there for now.
He may not be ready to mix with local families. I would be thinking whether a smaller number-maybe even a one to one situation may suit better.
But I can't tell that from the info given.
We don't have enough information to know though, nor to suggest that he is addicted.
I'd suggest again that mum came over to the FB HE page -a safe place to chat to people who understand autonomous HE and maybe have experienced similar...
I think that she has good advice. I would only switch off as a last resort, it is much better to be positive.
The advice has been:
Join a group
Use WofW as a basis to follow up and widen interests
Think of career in computer games
Earn games time.
I think it highly irresponsible to tell a worried mother that she need not worry, he can be addicted to gaming, but when he feels like it he can go to college and do well at whatever he turns his mind to.
If you take one month a year to 'de school' he has had 3 times that so it is time to gently encourage to move on and end the addiction.
Another suggestion might be to get him doing something physically active every day. A healthy mind in a healthy body....
When my DS who is 14 got a paper round in the summer hols he had more self-motivation to do active things/go places/kick a ball around in the park etc
My friend is a major WoW player, levelled right up there (or something) really immersed in it on and off for many years.
They are now moving on from a deep depression and working on writing fantasy novels. The online chat gave them the opportunity to try out socialising in a safer, controlled way.
Make it routine that you go out every day, he has to accompany you, but otherwise, he probably needs this right now. Make sure he has a working microphone so he can talk to WoW friends. Find Sealed Knot battles to go along to as a family.
On the subject of long term propects of a games addicted youngster:
My elder brother is a programmer (been at it since computers were invented). He has worked in several countries and contracted for many top organisations. During this he has had to work with or train many young people who had spent their teenage years addicted to computer games. He reports that each one he has met has been a 'normal' human being, able to communicate well and are generally very intelligent, quick learners. As the only downside, he says some of them had very humped shoulders from hunching over a screen for so long.
(But, a word of caution. He wouldn't have met the ones who didn't make it into the industry. It still requires effort to get a good job.)
Try to make sure breaks are taken to stretch all the muscles and also to practice focusing the eyes into the distance. Yearly eye exams would be wise. Purchase a chair which helps posture. Yoga is a lovely way to stretch each muscle and doesn't get you out of breath if he doesn't like the idea of charging about. If he constantly uses headphones, check for hearing damage and agree a safe volume setting.
I think that your word of caution makes the point because he is only coming across the ones who have made it in what is a highly competitive field. I believe it is easier to get a job as a programmer, but they need to be highly intelligent, my son is on the artistic side and there were well over 100 people applying for every job that he went for. OP needs to point out to her son that at some point he needs to get some motivation to study. You can't just happily assume that in a few years time he can decide to study and find it easy.
"You can't just happily assume that in a few years time he can decide to study and find it easy."
Yes, you can. Please go and do some research about unschooling. That's precisely how it works!!
Ommmward you beat me to it! That's exactly what I was going to reply.
It's what autonomously HE/unschooled youngsters do all the time, live life have fun and then when they are ready decide to study and do very well.
it's certainly what mine did, and what hundreds more I know personally too..most choosing to go on to university too.
Only if they have the capability- I know those who have been autonomously HE/unschooled and they have never been ready to study or have not been able to cope. Life would be wonderful if it worked like that for everyone.
School is wonderful for those it works for, HE is wonderful for those it works for.
Everyone is different and unfortunately you can't be sure that all will turn out well, you can only hope.
It is highly dangerous for OP to be told that her addicted son can snap out and do anything he wants, he may or he may not, it is a gamble. I would shorten the odds by lessening the addiction now when he is fairly young.
I think that I have twice said that it is dangerous to give advice without more information. We only know that OP's son has been at home for 2years and that he didn't go to secondary school because the problems would have followed him and that he is very rude about any of his mother's suggestions or arrangements. The one thing he appears to actually want to do is play one particular computer game.
We have no idea if he has special needs that were not catered for, whether he was bullied, whether he was the bully, whether he was disruptive etc etc etc and yet the sweeping statement is made that once he makes his mind up he can do whatever he likes, and can expect success, just because he happens to have chosen it.
I know the government wants to get 50% to university ( not a figure that I would agree with) but it is not for the average. Most children are average, that is what it means. If they are all capable of doing any particular academic study when they feel like it then the average IQ would go up. HE isn't just for those with a high IQ, it is for the whole range. Therefore you can't just say that a child you don't know can have fun and wake up one day and catch up! My son is reasonably intelligent, he got a B in Maths at GCSE and decided to take it at AS level, he found himself way out of his depth in the very first lesson and changed subjects. He couldn't possibly have decided to do it having not touched Maths since he left school in year 5/6. You can do it, but you have a lot of catching up to do first!
You make it sound as if there is a way to educate that is 'the' way to suit all, and not that everyone has different leading styles. You are very lucky to have a way that suits you, even luckier if it suits your children too, but had I been your child it would have made me miserable because it is not 'the' way for me.
Everyone is different and all we can say is that a way can be best for some parents and some children, it can never be best for all parents and children.
People are quick to give the plus points of computer games, I wouldn't argue with them for a few hours a day, but this is not simply a few hours a day. OP needs suggestions of how to get onto other things and not to be told, 'don't worry, a 12 year old knows best'!
learning styles not 'leading' styles.
I've not jumped into this discussion before, because I don't have expertise in the subject of heavy computer use or games addiction, and I don't have an opinion on the best way forward. However, I just want to make a few observations in case it helps the discussion along. Forgive me if I am stating the obvious.
In saying that the OP shouldn't be told 'don't worry, a 12 year old knows best' you are arguing against the fundamental axiom of autonomous education. That is EXACTLY what it is all about: children know what they need.
You are also questioning the idea that young people can "catch up" if they suddenly develop an interest in a subject they have not previously spent much time working on. I don't think you are accurately representing this idea. No one has said that all children are capable of achieving, say, a A grade at maths A-level. But the advocates of autnomous education believe that for those who are capable of achieving it, waiting until the young person wants to do it does not put him at a disadvantage compared to requiring him plod along towards the goal from an early age. I'm not clear how the example of your son's difficulties at AS contradicts this.
To take a less academic example - since you seem to be implying that only children with high academic potential are capable of making rapid progress towards their goals - my friend did not feel the need to make her HE daughter practice serving customers from an early age just in case she might one day work in a cafe. But there she is now, working in a cafe at the age of 16 and being praised for her ability to serve efficiently and cheerfully. Waiting to acquire these skills until she wanted to do so has done her no harm.
The people I know who practice autonomous education do make rare exceptions and will intervene if they are sure that the child is at extreme risk and for some reason is unable to act in his own best interests. So it isn't impossible that people may agree with your recommended course of action in this particular case (and you have argued that this is an extreme case, and you may be right) - just not with some of the arguments you are making. I don't have the impression that you are very familiar with how autonomous education works.
"children know what they need"
How do they know though? How do they know that they love Shakespeare/ inorganic chemistry/Georgian architecture/whatever if they haven't been exposed to it?
Two years is a long time out of anyone's childhood.
"All he wants to do is play World of Warcraft." That's not healthy.
Away - do you think he might be agreeable to going to an evening class of his choosing?
If you were to tell him that he must do some studying or go back to school might that be likely to work?
To put it simply I can use my own parents as examples.
My father's school report made me laugh as a child because they were fairly dire, and teachers in 1930s put comments they would never put today! When he got to 15yrs he decided he had to work for a decent future so he did and his next report was excellent, it was easy for him, he had been in the lessons and taken it all in, he just decided to apply himself.
My mother was HEd in her teens, she decided (autonomous education, she was ahead of her time!) to get qualifications. It was horrendously difficult for her, she was having to get up to a level in subjects that she had left several years before and she had to start from scratch with Latin and French. Needless to say she failed and she shouldn't have done, she is very intelligent.
My son's AS in Maths is highly relevant. He was quite good at the subject but he couldn't cope in the lesson. There is no way he would have coped had he had his last Maths lesson in year 6, OP's son will have to do some year's work before he can have the choice of A'level Maths and yet people are saying that if he decides to work at 16yrs he can study medicine at a top university should he wish. I dare say he could, but he won't be ready at 18 yrs because he has too much lost ground to catch up first.
I do understand autonomous education, my mother is 91 yrs old and she was doing it before it was 'invented'! She thinks it failed her and that had she had the advantages of her sister in grammar school she would have had more avenues open to her.
ignore the apostrophe, it crept in!
Autonomous education is all very well, but it does need some guidance from the parent, if the child is not leading a healthy lifestyle,and playing WofW for hours a day is not healthy. OP knows this, it is why she posted and she does need to do something about it. A 12 yr old can't just be left.
I expect he is too young for an evening class, he is only 12yrs.
OP, you may find this blogpost interesting. I don't suggest it mirrors your situation but it may provide useful additional insight.
chocoluvva: How do they know though? How do they know that they love Shakespeare/ inorganic chemistry/Georgian architecture/whatever if they haven't been exposed to it?
Autonomously HE children do get exposed to a lot of stuff. (And let's leave aside that there is a vast store of the world's knowledge that English schoolchildren are never introduced to.)
If the OP's DS was in school to Y6, then he may well have learned that he doesn't love any of that stuff. This often happens because school is not content to expose children to a variety of interesting things. Instead, it spoils books by saying they must be the subject of a book report. You cannot go to the theatre without doing loads of other things around it.
As stated upthread, schools provide a broad and balanced curriculum; by definition, it's not "suitable" for any one child. It is not suitable for the 6yo who wants to do algebra or for the 10yo who has just "got" reading.
OP has not given enough info for any of us to say anything specific about her son's difficulties. However we can talk about our own experiences.
If a child is not academic and is going to go on and do a manual or semi-skilled job, how does it help them to spend several years having to go to classes that they are expected to fail? Would it not be better for them to have an enjoyable childhood and then have the confidence to do a lower skilled job, not having learnt that they are likely to fail at whatever they do?
OTOH, if they are academic, then they are likely to be able to gain qualifications when they are ready. SatinSandals mother didn't manage it (in the 1930s) but that is one person in a very different culture from today's - we don't know what help she had or what else was going on in her life. It is clearly untrue to suggest that you cannot learn as a teen/adult unless you have "been in the lessons and taken it all in" - many people learn a second language as an adult to which they had no exposure in childhood (given that English schools generally "teach" a very small subset of languages and not all of those to all pupils, the chances of people not having had exposure in school is very high). The Open University is predicated on people with no school qualifications being able to work to degree-level largely on their own while holding a job.
SatinSandals son's AS may give some insight but it does not generalise. My DS had his first day in "school" at 18 when he went to do A-level maths and AS physics in one year to support a university application. He had had no classroom lessons or homework ever prior to that. His previous formal maths education consisted of only the Open University's bottom-level course, which is roughly GCSE level and which he had completed over a year before starting the A-level. He had done no formal physics at all. He achieved the A grade in maths that he needed and has just started Engineering Maths at a Russell Group uni.
It could be (but we are in no position to guess unless the OP chooses to share additional information) that the OP's DS will suddenly decide that he wants to aim for a specific career (and it is not a failure if he does NOT do medicine). Only the OP and her son can negotiate this. Personally, I would put a minimum of requirements on him (related to living together - things like being involved in housework) and tell him that his future is in his own hands - he knows that all these things are available and that the OP can help him access it. I'd still offer things but with no pressure to participate. I'd also try to make sure that I was learning something new (which could include WoW).
My experience is that realisation of the need to become a self-supporting adult arrives later in boys.
At 13, my (autonomously HE from birth) DD wanted to do nothing constructive. I chose to say that that was her responsibility: if she decided not to get qualifications and therefore to ensure she was qualified only for jobs that require no particular skill, that was up to her. At 15, she decided she wanted to be a lawyer (thank you, Ian Dowty at HESFes!). She graduated this summer with a 2:2 LLB from Exeter (but no longer wanting a career in law) and is now on a 5-week TESOL course with the intention of travelling and teaching English. Prior to university, she had taken no school exams exams and had studied at home (OU courses, only one with an exam). She spent 1 term in an English Y5 class and about 6 months in a German secondary at 13. She also had not ""been in the lessons and taken it all in".
OTOH, my DS at 15 was saying "how did DD know what she wanted to do?" - he had no idea and no real sense that he would have to become independent. At 17, it was starting to click but not early enough for him to be able to apply to university to start at 18 (he is an August birthday).
None of this may be relevant to the OP and I hope she has support IRL. However, it is simply untrue to say that 11-13 years of formal education (or even 5 years of exam preparation) is necessary. My advice is always to work backwards - know what you want to do and then see what you need to be able to get there. If you don't know, then at 12-16, enjoy yourself. If a young person is using gaming to shut out the world for an extended time, then that would be worrying. If it is his main interest and his other behaviour is fine, then it would not be.
In the OP's position, I'd probably want to negotiate that he does one other activity (chosen by him) per week. Even if that were to be going to Game Workshop and taking part in a tabletop gaming session. I'd hope (silently) that that would lead to a widening of his interests. At 12, I'd be surprised if he had the maturity to consider the effect on his adult life.
Shakespeare in Y6?
To make a personal example: I wouldn't have chosen to listen to lots of the 'difficult' 20th century music which featured in the O level music course I began aged 13. But I grew to love it. There was no Stravinsky or Bartok at primary school of at home. Thanks to having to study it for a course I have a lifelong love of it.
There are lots of things that I didn't know that I wanted to know about, or seemed boring, that I found fascinating once exposed to them.
My mother was taking the school certificate, where you had to pass all subjects to get it. She managed to pass all the ones that she had studied previously in school. She failed in French and Latin, the ones that were new. She had personal, weekly, tuition from the vicar who was proficient in both. According to those so keen on autonomous learning she should have set her mind to it and passed. She wanted to do it, she needed the qualification, she was intelligent enough and she had personal tuition from someone she knew well and was at ease with. She failed. She passed in the subjects she had tuition with earlier and didn't get personal tuition for.
SDeucher's son didn't suddenly do A'level Maths, he had done the OU course.
To me a 12 yr old playing computer games, to the exclusion of all else, is highly worrying and not something adults should be colluding with and saying 'have fun and all will work out'. The fact that at 12 yrs be hasn't the maturity to consider the effect on his adult life means that his mother has to do it for him and make changes, hopefully by encouragement but ultimately she can simple switch it off!
I don't want to get into a row SatinSandals but I don't understand how your point about your mother supports your argument. The fact that she didn't pass French and Latin does not make any comment on her autonomous HE. Maybe she could have passed if she had had a bit longer. Maybe she wouldn't have passed if she had had three years of those subjects.
I have not said that all people can do anything if they put their mind to it. I do think that that lie is peddled by school (so it makes it the responsibility of the individual if they "fail"). I said that a child does not need to spend years in school in order to achieve.
My entire point is that the child might not need to spend years in school to achieve ; but they might. You simply can't say. To tell OP that her son can spend years just playing computer games and she need not worry is irresponsible. Maybe she need not worry,but maybe she should be very worried.
I can't get my head around the fact that everyone thinks a 12 year old child should just be allowed to spend his days on a computer game and adults should just airily say ' he will sort him self out when ready'. If he was mine there is no way he would get more than 2 hours a day, and he would only get that if he earned it. I don't expect any child to do what I don't do and so I would have us all off the Internet for a week. If he has a tantrum it is tough. After the break start a new policy.
When my son was 12 years old I was 48 years old and I had much more experience of life and what he needed, we were not equal. As an adult there is no way that I would allow a child in to have hours and hours on a computer game in my house! My children are adults and they still like my company and want to spend time with me. You can say 'no' : you are the mother and not the best friend. They can have plenty of friends who agree with them, they only get one mother!
This obviously strikes a chord with you Satin. You do not appear to take seriously the examples of people who have recently autonomously educated their children and so it seems like there is little more that can be added.
However, regarding addiction, there is no evidence that forcing someone to limit their time on a device will lessen an addiction - think about other addictions, if you stop a smoker smoking forcibly they crave cigarettes, if you hide alcohol from an alcoholic they will find it or buy more and hide it better. Forcing a child to do something could lead to serious damage to the relationship between the OP and their son and is unlikely to lead to him wanting to play less, and that is why I would never recommend it. Connection and engagement is the way forward, doing more together, playing games together, not 'just doing nothing'. Autonomous education takes a lot of participating from the home educating parent, it is not just leaving children to get on with it - I wonder if this is really what your mum experienced? Did she have a parent with her attending full time to her education, helping her explore her interests, providing resources for her, exposing her to things she would not have thought of, talking to her about anything she found interesting, taking her to groups and classes she wanted to attend? Did she have opportunities to learn things when she was interested - obviously there was no Internet, but was she in a rich, supportive learning environment which filled her with excitement about learning and life?
That is what I aim for with my children and playing computer games with them and sharing their joy in them is part of that.
Yes she did to all those things, it didn't work and she feels disadvantaged still at 91 years of age.
You can dismiss it if you like, because it doesn't fit your idea of autonomous education.
It can't work for everyone, we are all different. One person's dream is always another person's nightmare.
She tells very few people about her education, I'm not even sure that my cousins know and her friends certainly don't.
It is impossible to be an ideal parent because one person's ideal would be dreadful for another.
I would be highly annoyed if my mother had let me spend my childhood doing something as self destructive as get addicted to computer games. You just have to hope that you have children who match your ideas, luckily you have a good chance they do.
No one smokes in my house! It is similar to computer games. An alcoholic wouldn't get a drink either. I dare say they can both get it elsewhere but I am not going to aid them in any way. It is their problem. I would cut off the computer games if all else fails.
If he does want to work in the games industry, skill will take him far, further than any computer game course that a university or college offers. Languages is a fantastic one which is much in demand, or the ones with more competition: graphic arts including CAD and 3D digital sculpting, "real life" art/sketching, coding/programming skills, ability to write a decent storyline or compose music. If he is aiming to do some sort of course then it's best if it has links to industry, other than that he'd need to get out there, be active on forums, volunteer, apply for tester positions, offer to do unpaid intern work, apply for jobs abroad as well as in the UK - this is where the language skills come in too. The computer games industry in Germany for example is thriving and growing, due to tax breaks for this particular industry. There are loads of software and hardware companies here, games, components, all sorts of things.
In addition to that there are tournaments now, there is such a thing as E-sports which is where players compete on the games worldwide for huge cash prizes and sponsorship. Games aren't just a soul destroying, mind-mushing thing any more, the potential is real and it is probably larger than you think.
However I also think everyone's suggestions on this thread are great about bringing in his interests from the game to real life. Or from other games - Civilisation for example could lead to interest in history, he could look at modding games to teach himself coding (usually not allowed in MMOs) you could look at tabletop games if he is into fantasy etc.
I also think the idea of him earning his time is a good one. This enables you to ration it but him to keep some control over how much time he gets to play. It also fits in with real, adult independent aims - he will one day have to juggle the game with finding a real job, if he wants friends in real life or a girlfriend etc, he will need to balance that with his need to play the game. It's all good practice.
I would say that that is the most sensible post on here, Yoni.
We have really got off course with bringing smoking and alcohol into it. The only relevance HE has (autonomous or not) is that he has time and huge stretches of time. Most 12 year olds are out of the house and away from computer games for at least 7 hours a day and then have other calls on their time, such as homework.
The real problem is getting him to widen his interests.
A suggestion of a career in computer games is a good one, but as I know only too well from personal experience, it is highly competitive. There are many highly qualified, talented young people who are out there and over 100 apply for every job. SDeuchars mentioned law which is also highly competitive, we have too many young people doing law. The world is changing, a 2:2 used to be a perfectly respectable degree but now you would need at least a 2:1 to have the edge in careers.
This means they need to be very flexible, my son has finally got a job, it is a good one, using his degree, but it is not his dream job in computer games. He is getting relevant experience and he may achieve his ambition one day.
Flexibility is the key and a 12 year could make a start by being more flexible. Yoni's last paragraph is extremely sensible. I can't see what is wrong in earning time because it is simple to do, gives both him and his mother some control and is very fair and seems to me the perfect compromise for anyone, making the form of education irrelevant.
All careers are highly competitive. And specialism is necessary to get those good jobs. If you're a little bit good at lots of things, you aren't good enough at one thing to get the job.
Would there be such negativity if he were 'addicted' to reading novels?
Of course all jobs are highly competitive, there are very few jobs for graduates and that is the problem. I mentioned law because that is one that is particularly difficult and those with a degree higher than 2:2 can't get jobs in it. I don't think that those who have younger children realise that retail jobs, restaurants etc are full of people with very good degrees in all sorts of subjects. Computer games is particularly difficult.
You will be much better off if you are a little bit of good at lots of things, you may well have to go off at a tangent, and you are quite likely to have career changes through life. The job for life has gone.
I dare say that you could say I was 'addicted' to reading novels as a child, I was certainly called a book worm. However it still left hours and hours to do other things. My son's friend did English at university and he had 7 hours contact time a week, the rest of the time he was reading. He still had time for friends, hobbies and interests even when he was reading far, far more than the normal person.
This is a 12 year old child, spending all his time doing one thing and calling everything else 'crap' and a 'waste of time' is not something a parent should be accepting. I can't see a single thing wrong in earning the time. e.g. One hour maths=one hour computer time: the washing up= 15 mins computer time. It is perfectly fair, reasonable and easy to do.
Yes. Whether or not he's 'addicted' to WoW is irrelevant - the point is, he's doing nothing else apparently.
Being addicted to reading, tinkering with computers/programming/biology etc would probably be more useful to him than playing a game (albeit a complex one) where much of the enjoyment will be coming from the dopamine hit of the 'interactions' and the adrenaline rush of the vicariously stressful scenarios he finds himself in. Not healthy.
I think that by giving rewards for doing maths you are turning maths into a chore,if you enjoy maths you would just do it.
I have a feeling some people on here A. dont HE and B.dont dont know what autonomous ed/unschooling means.
Doing nothing but play WoW might or might not be a HE 'issue' though!
It is when you are discussing what "to do" about it though.
I dont really understand why people would read the HE threads if they are not HE or considering it.
OP have you looked on sandra dodds website?she also has a page called always learning on yahoo groups.
You are not giving a 'reward' for doing maths, you are saying that the child needs variety and they can play WofW if they earn it, it doesn't have to be Maths, it can be baking, gardening, a game of chess, in fact anything at all that isn't WofW because addiction of any sort isn't healthy.
I read all sorts of threads, why not? I am not feeding a baby, choosing a name, keeping a dog, having a step child etc but I am fully entitled to read it and comment. It is a public site! I found it on 'last 15 mins' which is where I find anything unless I try 'unanswered questions'. I never choose a topic.
I can't see that is relevant to HE anyway, other than the fact he has lots of time. It is a 12 year old child with an addiction, it is just that most posters seem to want to collude with it and say that it isn't a problem.
But it really isnt a problem unless you make it one.I suggest you read up on unschooling before commenting on it.
I think its sad people are worrying about what job hes going to do hes only 12 for gods sake!
I happen to know a great deal about unschooling.
I am not going to comment any further, except to say that as a responsible adult there is no way that any child of 12 years of age would get more than 2hours a day on a computer game in my house. I would use the carrot rather than the stick,but as a last resort we would all have at least a week without a computer. It won't do him any harm to be bored and forced to use his imagination. It will do him harm to be addicted.
No one is worrying about his job, that was merely a suggestion to get him to think a little harder. A career in computer games needs a lot more than an interest in playing them! Getting a job in it is highly competitive.
And how do we know it isn't a problem. How many DCs have been addicted to games from the age of 10-12 years, with no sign of stopping and no other interests? Even other people's examples on here have done a few other things or been persuaded out on family or group outings. They haven't called them 'crap' or 'waste of time'. OP is rightly worried and I think that she got some useful advice.
"it really isn't a problem unless you make it one".
I assume the OP is not happy with the situation - that's why she's posting.
Also, the point about it not being so bad if he was obsessed with something more useful is valid IMO. Although we all benefit from the scientific breakthroughs and great works of art made by people who are obsessed with their specialism I can't see how the OP's DS or anyone could benefit from an obsession with a game.
Unschooling is basically seeing everything as an opportunity to learn,so that means you see watching tv or playing a game as valid as reading or painting,do you understand that?
Anyway the op seems to have done one!
There's a significance between watching tv, reading or eg, investigating the fauna of your garden though. WoW is stressful with no physical outlet for that stress. Not good for OP's DS.
I understand it perfectly, I have already said that I have read about it. However, we all draw different conclusions from the same information and this is how it should be, we should question everything and so should our children. Although I understand it, I don't agree with it.
You will find that many HEers don't do it an autonomous way. I think that there are as many ways of approaching it as HEers, and you are unlikely to find two the same.
From the sound of OP, she is not autonomously educating her DS and she is finding it a problem.She has asked for help. Going down the autonomous route and hoping for the best is one way. There are others. It is up to her to decide what to try. There is not a 'way' to do it. There is not a way that is best. All you can say is that there is a way that is best for some parents and a way that is best for some children and hope they match up.
ringaringarosy. How far would you take that though.All the way to a guy[and it is usually a guy] who has become so obsessed that toilet breaks are almost a no no? Is he still "learning". And that is ok I presume? And if at some point you fancied stopping him, how exactly? Once an addict, always an addict.
At some time you just have to put your foot down and say 'no'-however much they throw a tantrum.
I think it is much easier to have these theories went you have younger children and not so easy when they get to the ages we are talking about.
What would you do when this 12 year old wants a 15yr old rated game or a 18yr old rated game? I can tell you that they always want to play the game, watch the film that is unsuitable and it is made more difficult by the fact they may well have friends who are allowed to do it.
You quite clearly dont,i suggest you read some more about it!
Age rating on a game or film is a different issue.
You really think that if I keep reading I will agree?
I read lots and no one is ever 'right'. There is no magic way to parent or educate. One child's dream parent/educator is another child's nightmare one! Life would be so simple if everyone did x,y and z and their child was happy with it and turned out a mature, emotionally stable adult. Life is not like that.
I have read lots and I simply don't agree with it. Reading more isn't likely to convince me!
Your DCs are very young ringaringarosy - you will have to see how it works out and whether you can keep it up when the going gets tough.
I am also terrifically cynical and think it is only 'autonomous' if it fits with mother. My argument is the age card. I am almost 40 years older than my child. I have more experience, I know why he shouldn't get addicted to computer games and so I have no intention of letting him. If the 5yr old is desperate to go to school and the parent wants to HE they will play the same age card in that the child can't possibly know what is best for them.
We are older, our children are not equal. We do what we think best for them. Age rating isn't that simple, IWA, it is a very grey area.
"I am also terrifically cynical"
If my child had been desperate to go to school, then that's where he would have been.
That's autonomous to my mind.
I'd talk to them about it. But it would be their choice. Same as everything else.
And no, it was a whole lot easier to live autonomously as the children got older.
At least that was our experience, rather than just something I think.
That is fine then-I stand corrected. I don't mind if it is a level playing field. Either you let them choose or you don't.
It is quite encouraging because I was desperate to start school at 5 yrs so I am glad that autonomous stretches that far and you don't have to wait years to be listened to.
I am all for consistency.
I agree that it is easier to live autonomously as they get older and they know that playing computer games all day is not an option. (I expect it is easier if it is an option and you are happy with it).Probably win, win either way.
Sometimes you need to have the arguments to get to an understanding. Trainers were a big issue with us, causing endless arguments. Once they understood that I was unmoveable on price it was all quite amicable, I put in my top amount and they topped it up with their own money or they chose something in the price range. It took a quite a long time to get that far.
No I didn't find a need to argue (either way) usually either. We'd just try and live consensually and with mutual respect.
Trainers weren't an issue once they were home educated, there was no longer a need to keep up with anyone. Trainers were just whatever fitted to wear for footie/rugby at HE camps and gatherings.
They knew the constraints of our very tight budget as we discussed that with them too.
I'm not saying they were angels at all times-and neither am I. But I have parented more conventionally in a more 'me big you small' way previously, and autonomous living is in our experience a much less stressful, so much happier and more productive way of doing it.
So much so that the other children parent in that way too now.
and yes win win, because we didn't limit screen time either.
We'd talk, they choose.
You clearly don't have a son like my DS2! The others were not bothered.
I can't say that I parent in a 'me big you small way', it isn't my style at all. I am generally on the autonomous lines, after much discussion, but if they are not prepared to be reasonable as in computer games or trainers then I will make it clear that it is not acceptable or affordable.
It is all to do with personality. Some are much easier than others. It always amazed me that a boy that I know who was HEed in a very rural area always knew exactly what was 'in' and wanted it, despite his siblings not being remotely bothered and him not having anyone to keep up with! He is now 23 and not changed!
They knew the constraints of our very tight budget as we discussed that with them too.
It is however a major problem if they don't accept it. DS2 got it after about 2 years!
My youngest brother was always very difficult, he never got anything he didn't want to get!
If my mother had just had the rest of us she could have patted herself on the back with her parenting skills! We were very open to reason. It is all down to personality.
No I didn't find a need to argue (either way) usually either. We'd just try and live consensually and with mutual respect.
We got there in the end! The road was a bit rocky at times!
I don't think what you as a parent spend on their clothing is an autonomous issue, you're not stopping them spending their own money, you're asking for their input into how you spend your money.
It is all to do with some things not being an option. Expensive trainers were not an option and, as far as I am concerned, playing computer games for more than 2 hours a day was not an option.Some things are non negotiable, e.g. teeth will be cleaned. I will try all sorts of positive ways to do it, but they will be cleaned. Once you have established it as a fact it makes life so much easier.
It is all down to personality, I know so many people who had an easy going, complient first child and they patted themselves on the back thinking it all due to their parenting methods and then they got a second child who tested all boundaries and wasn't remotely interested in pleasing people.
Some children, like my DC1, will immediately see that if you haven't got much money you are not going to buy expensive trainers it but others, like my DC2 will argue that if you haven't got much money you shouldn't have bought, x,y and z and then you would have enough!
The problem also comes if they don't have any money! Our problem was solved when DC2 finally realised that I wasn't moveable, which happily came at a time that he had more money.
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